Cougars Rally in 9th, Fall Short 11-10

Houston Cougars Lael Lockhart Jr. 2-28-2020
Lael Lockhart Jr.’s first pitch against Texas State Friday night.

The Texas State Bobcats arrived in force at Schroeder Park on Friday night as they opened their series with the Houston Cougars with a big win.

The Bobcats got two quick runs in the first inning off of Cougars starter Lael Lockhart Jr. . . . After a strikeout to lead off the game, two singles and a triple added up to a quick 2-0 lead . . . Texas State would keep Houston off the scoreboard long enough to put up a three-spot in the third to take a 5-0 lead.

The Cougars put together a comeback of sorts in the fourth when they scored two after a leadoff single by Ryan Hernandez, one of his two hits on the night, and a double to right-center by Brett Cain . . . Tyler Bielamowicz was hit by a pitch for the fourth time already this season to load the bases for Ian McMillan . . . McMillan hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Hernandez from third.

Freshman Rey Mendoza pinch-hit with the bases loaded and two-outs after a Kobe Hyland walk . . . Mendoza quickly fell behind 0-2, but he stayed patient and he did not chase, eventually he worked a big walk to score another run and get the Cougars within three at 5-2.

Texas State would get a run back in the fifth . . . The Cougars got that run back in the sixth when Kobe Hyland hit a solo homerun to right field . . . But the math was not adding up as the Bobcats plated five runs in their seventh and eighth innings to take a commanding 11-3 lead into the ninth . . . The Bobcats made the Cougars pay for defensive errors, those hitters scored to increase the pressure on the trio of Cougars pitchers that handled the duty on Friday night.

The Cougars mounted a rally of sorts to close the gap . . . Dax Dathe led off the inning with a solid single, and he would move to second on a wild pitch . . . An error by the Texas State shortstop would allow the Cougars runners on the corners with no one out . . . Derrick Cherry would deliver with an RBI single, his first hit of the 2020 season in his first game this year, and the Cougars were trailing 11-4 as Texas State went to the bullpen.

Another run would score on a Ryan Hernandez groundout to make the score 11-5 . . . Blake Way followed with a two-out two-run homerun to left-center to get the Cougars within four at 11-7 . . . Tyler Bielamowicz worked a two-out walk to keep the inning alive. Bielmowicz reached base in three of his five plate appearances, capping his night with a stolen base.

Ian McMillan kept the ninth inning going with a single to right . . . Freshman Luke Almendarez roped a two-out double into the left field corner and two runs would score to make the score 11-9 before Texas State went to the bullpen again . . . A single to right by Dylan Post would get the Cougars within one, but the rally would end there with the winning run base as the Cougars fell 11-10 despite scoring seven runs in the final frame.

Houston and Texas State are back at it on Saturday evening at 6:30 at Schroeder Park. –

Cougars Fall to Tennessee in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars and the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers came into the second day of the inaugural Round Rock Classic having both won their opening games on Friday at Dell Diamond.

The Volunteers got on the board with three runs in the first off of Houston starter Clay Aguilar . . . Those would be the only runs until the fourth when Steven Rivas hit a two-run homerun to get the Cougars within one . . . For Rivas it was his second homerun on the season.

Houston would tie the game in the fifth when Ryan Hernandez hit a one-out double to the warning track that allowed Kobe Hyland to cross the plate . . . Clay Aguilar exited the game in the sixth as his pitch count reached 96, he went 5 1/3 striking out five and only allowing two earned runs . . . Tristen Bayless took the mound and got the final two outs of the inning to keep the game tied at three . . . Aguilar’s outing was quite good in the long run, stretching his start into the sixth kept the bullpen from being taxed too heavily.

The Cougars then took the lead in the sixth after Lael Lockhart Jr. got his first hit of the season to lead off the inning. Lockhart Jr. would score from second on an Ian McMillan infield single and a throwing error . . . It would be the only run of the inning as the Cougars took the 4-3 lead into the seventh.

Things came unraveled for the Cougars at that point as the Volunteers continued to get runners on base . . . Tennessee scored three in the seventh and two in the ninth to take an eventual 8-4 lead. 

Houston went hitless in its final three frames against Tennessee pitching . . . Ryan Hernandez was 2-for-3 on the afternoon, the only Cougar with multiple hits, and he got his season average up to .400 . . . It is worth noting that while Tyler Bielamowicz was 0-for-2 in the game, he was hit-by-pitch in his first two plate appearances and he continues to get on base for the Cougars so far this year . . .  The 8-4 loss dropped the Cougars to 2-3 on the young season.

The Cougars close out their action in the 2020 Round Rock Classic on Sunday at 3pm against Texas Tech. –

Cougars Defeat Stanford in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars opened up the inaugural Round Rock Classic with a win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in Round Rock at Dell Diamond.

Stanford got on the board in the first with an early 1-0 lead off of Cougars starter Lael Lockhart Jr. . . .  The Cougars got the run back in their half of the second on a Blake Way sacrifice fly to left and the game was tied at one going into the fourth . . . For Way, it was the first of three RBI in the game.

The Cougars bottom of the fourth was an adventure for everyone at Dell Diamond . . . Houston sent eleven batters to the plate and eight of them reached base with seven of them scoring . . . The Cougars took advantage of three errors in the frame, including two on one play by Stanford’s first baseman . . . The inning also saw two stolen bases, one by Blake Way, the other by Brad Burckel . . . After the big inning, Houston took an 8-1 lead into the fifth.

Lockhart Jr. settled in after the allowing the run in the first inning and was crisp with his pitches and command into the fifth when he started to scuffle a bit . . . With two outs and the bases loaded, the Cougars went to Isaiah Blaylock who quickly shut down the threat with a strikeout and without allowing any runs to score.

Stanford once again loaded the bases in the sixth, this time with no one out, and Brayson Hurdsman was brought in from the bullpen and he escaped the inning with no damage done . . . The Cardinal would get three runs in their half of the seventh to make the score 8-4.

With the game still 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Hernandez hammered a no-doubt three-run homerun to put the Cougars back on top by eight heading into the ninth . . . Hernandez has homered in three of his first four games as a Cougar.

Tristen Bayless entered the game in the eighth and pitched the final two innings striking out three and securing for Lael Lockhart Jr. his first win on the season and a 1-0 record while the team evened its record at 2-2 . . . Leadoff batters reached base in six of the eight innings for the Houston offense, four of those were hits, one was a walk, and the other was a hit-by-pitch.

The Cougars return to action Saturday at 2pm at Dell Diamond against the Tennessee Volunteers. –

 

Cougars Begin 2020 With 7-3 Win

Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.
Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.

The Houston Cougars under Todd Whitting have a strong record on opening weekends, and Friday night at Schroeder Park was no exception . . . The Cougars played host to the Youngstown State Penguins to get the 2020 campaign underway.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start, a familiar role for him after taking over as the Friday night starter last season . . . Lockhart was perfect through three innings with six strikeouts . . . Lockhart surrendered his first hit and run both in the fourth . . . An inning later, as some tough luck and defensive miscues took place behind him, Lockhart would exit as the Cougars fell behind for the first time in the game.

Junior college transfer Ryan Hernandez introduced himself to the Cougars fans in a big way . . . In his first at-bat, Hernandez drove a pitch deep to left-center to score Brad Burckel all the way from first and give Houston a 1-0 lead . . . Hernandez’s next two plate appearances each resulted in singles, at that point Youngstown State had seen enough, they issued an intentional pass in his next at-bat.

Brayson Hurdsman was outstanding out of the bullpen for the Cougars going the final four innings and striking out six along the way.

In the sixth inning, junior transfer Steven Rivas used his first plate appearance as a Cougar to hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to right to tie the game . . . Ian McMillan then punched a single into right field to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.

Senior Tyler Bielamowicz got his final Cougars campaign off to a hot start with a 2-for-3 performance that included a walk . . . Bielamowicz drove in three runs on the night, including two in the seventh that placed some distance between the Cougars and the Penguins.

1,074 fans braved the chilly night of baseball and the home team delivered a 7-3 victory . . . The two teams return to the field at Schroeder Park on Saturday night at 6:30.

Cougars Lose American Championship Opener

Houston Cougars Baseball

The American Conference Championship got underway Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Florida with the first pitch between the UConn Huskies and the Houston Cougars . . . The ability for any team to determine its path can be realized by just playing one game at a time, keep winning, you keep playing, lose a game, and the slope becomes much steeper to climb.

Houston sent Lael Lockhart Jr. to the mound for the morning start, and Lockhart seemed to have adapted well . . . A mistake by Lockhart in the second inning found its way to the left field seats, but Lockhart was very much in control scattering just four other hits through six innings of work as Lockhart took the game into the seventh inning.

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Jared Triolo got the Cougars on the scoreboard with a no-doubter to left to cut the lead to 2-1 . . . The homerun was part of a 2-for-4 morning for Triolo . . . Joe Davis evened the score at two with a solo homerun of his own to left-center in the top of the sixth inning.

The Cougars took the lead in the top of the seventh when Kobe Hyland singled home Grayson Padgett to make the score 3-2 . . . Padgett had reached base when he was hit by a pitch and then stole second.

In the bottom of the seventh Lockhart surrendered his fifth and final hit, a homerun to left, which tied the game at three . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and eventually ended the inning, making way for Fred Villarreal . . . Villarreal pitched a scoreless eighth sending the tied ballgame to the ninth.

Houston loaded the bases in the top of the ninth but could not push a run across . . . In the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff single would eventually end up on second, and that run would be driven home by UConn third baseman David Langer with a single to center off of Villarreal to give the Huskies a 4-3 win.

The Cougars will play Wednesday at 2pm Houston time, the opponent is not yet known, but it will be the loser of the East Carolina and Wichita State game which starts forty-seven minutes after the Cougars game ended, so we will know the opponent soon enough. –

Cougars Drop Opener in Orlando

Houston Cougars Baseball

The season’s final series of the year got underway on Thursday evening in Orlando, Florida as the University of Central Florida Knights hosted the Houston Cougars . . . The Knights and the Cougars entered Thursday with relatively equal records overall, both in and out of conference.

Knights starter Grant Schuermann had the Cougars solved early on it seemed . . . Houston had a runner reach third only once, in the fourth inning . . . Schuermann went eight scoreless innings allowing only four Cougars hits.

Lael Lockhart Jr. was a tough-luck loser on the night, he pitched reasonably well and was not hit very hard . . . A pop foul that should have been caught by either Kyle Lovelace or Joe Davis was instead a second chance for catcher Dallas Beaver, who then walked, and would eventually score, while there were also two errors behind Lockhart in the inning, an inning where the Knights scored three times to take a 3-0 lead.

Nolan Bond relieved Lockhart in the sixth and took the game into the ninth when Spencer Hynes pitched a scoreless frame in his first game action since April 6.

Only five Cougars had base hits on Thursday, with Joe Davis collecting two of them in a 2-for-4 effort . . . The Cougars led off the ninth who two singles by Wendell Champion and Joe Davis, but they would remain on second and first respectively as the next three batters each went down on strikes and handed UCF an 8-0 shutout.

The final regular season series of the season continues Friday in Orlando at 5pm Houston time. –

Cougars Take Tulane 5-2

Houston vs. Tulane 5-12-2019
Photo by Cougars Beat

Sunday afternoon offered the Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave a complete contrast to Saturday afternoon and evening, and early Sunday morning for that matter . . . Where Saturday was rainy, then misty, then humid, then misty again, Sunday was occasionally breezy, sunny with a blue sky and white clouds, and about half as humid as Saturday at the ballpark. 

Sunday was also Mother’s Day and Senior Day, so it made sense for the weather to cooperate . . . Cougars fans bid farewell and said thank you to Joe Davis, Nolan Bond, Grayson Padgett, Rey Fuentes, and Ryan Randel . . . Randel and Bond had something extra for the fans, and for the Tulane offense.

After two quiet innings, Derrick Cherry put the Cougars on the board and in the lead with a two-RBI single in the third . . . The single scored both Kyle Lovelace and Jared Triolo who had both walked to reach base . . . Cherry was 3-for-4 on the afternoon with two RBI on the afternoon.

The Cougars added another run the seventh when Kobe Hyland hit a two-out RBI double to center in the 7th to take a 3-0 lead.

Ryan Randel was very good on Sunday and was not in much trouble at any point . . . When Randel exited after 7 1/3 innings, he had only allowed 2 unearned runs on three hits . . . He left with the bases loaded after an error, a batter hit by a pitch, and an intentional walk, so it was not the worst of circumstances . . . Two runs would score on a bloop hit off of Nolan Bond, who had taken over on the mound for Randel in the eighth, but the damage was limited and Houston held on to a 3-2 lead.

Houston started the eighth with two singles before Tyler Bielamowicz put down a sacrifice bunt to score Jared Triolo and Lael Lockhart Jr. followed with a single to center batting right-handed – it was Lockhart’s second hit of the game, this one scoring Derrick Cherry and giving the Cougars a 5-2 lead.

Bond recorded the final five outs of the game, escaping too much damage in the eighth and getting Tulane down in order in the ninth to close out the game . . . Bond earned his first save of the year in securing the 5-2 win . . . Ryan Randel he picked up his fourth win of the year.

After playing 28 innings of baseball in the last 25 hours, the Cougars are off on Monday and return to action on Tuesday against Rice down in Sugar Land at Constellation Field . . . First pitch is at 7:05pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Shut-Out UNLV 2-0

Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UNLV at Schroeder Park on Saturday night. Photos by Cougars Beat.
Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UNLV at Schroeder Park on Saturday night.
Photos by Cougars Beat.

Potential inclement weather canceled Friday night’s game between the UNLV Rebels and the Houston Cougars . . . Having decided the game would not be made up meant the two teams could stretch their lineups as needed with this brief two-game series.

The Cougars offense was in business in the bottom of the first after a Brad Burckel walk and a stolen base, then an intentional pass to Joe Davis . . . Derrick Cherry put a ball in play toward short that was too slow for the UNLV defense to turn a double play, when Cherry was safe at first, Burckel was the first run to score for the Cougars when he crossed home . . . After a Tyler Bielamowicz single, Rey Fuentes followed with a clean single up the middle into center field which scored Derrick Cherry from third to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got his eleventh start of the season against UNLV, and he was cruising for the most part . . . The few times Lockhart faced adversity, he was quick to get out of it without any damage, in one instance Kyle Lovelace caught a popped bunt in front of homeplate and doubled-up the runner on first with a quick, accurate throw . . . In another instance Brad Burckel fielded a bouncing ball right on top of second base with a running bearing down on him, his throw to first completed another double-play behind Lockhart.

The innings pitched quickly stacked up as Lockhart faced only three batters in five of his innings pitched . . . Lockhart eventually took the mound in the eighth inning still maintaining his 2-0 lead.

Bryson Stott entered Friday’s action hitting .365 for UNLV, the highest batting average on the team and the team leader in homeruns with ten . . . Stott was 0-for-4, striking out twice against Lockhart who went 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball against a good hitting team that only got five hits off of him and struck out five times.

Devon Roedahl came into the game with two outs in the eighth to get the final out with two runners put on base by Lockhart . . . Roedahl induced a ground ball to short that Kobe Hyland handled easily to get the runner at first and end the inning . . . Roedahl returned to the mound for the ninth after the Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.

An error at third was followed by a deep grounder to short, Kobe Hyland was able to field the ball but unable to make a clean throw to Burckel at second as Kobe was falling away from the throw . . . Roedahl struck out the next two batters, then loaded the bases with a walk, he then recorded his third strikeout of the inning to end the game and secure the 2-0 win for Houston . . . Roedahl did not allow a hit in his 1 1/3 innings that earned him his fourth save on the year . . . Lockhart for his outstanding effort was rewarded with his fourth win as he loaded his ERA to 3.03 with his scoreless effort.

The shortened weekend series with UNLV concludes Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park, first pitch is at 1pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Drop Opener at USF, 5-3

Houston Cougars Baseball

The University of South Florida Bulls welcomed the Houston Cougars to Tampa, Florida on Friday night for the opening game of a weekend conference series.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start again and he looked crisp early, through the first two innings most of his pitches had been around the plate, many for strikes . . . Lockhart was also accumulating strikeouts early, when his night was done he had struck out eight.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard first, in the second inning after a one-out double by Rey Fuentes and a single by Derrick Cherry put two runners on when Kobe Hyland doubled to right field on an 0-2 pitch . . . Hyland’s double would be all the scoring in the inning as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead.

Derrick Cherry added to the score when he hit a one-out homerun to left-center in the fourth to put the Cougars up 3-0 . . . For Cherry it was his third homerun on the season and part of a 2-for-4 night.

The Bulls did not score a run until a one-out double in the fifth by Alex Bello scored a runner from first base . . . Lockhart seemed to be scuffling at the time as runners would end up on first and second with one out. But the inning would come to an end when Lockhart stuck out his eighth batter of the game and Kyle Lovelace would stop a steal attempt cold at third with a perfect throw and tag by Jared Triolo.

Lockhart would leave the game in the sixth with a 3-1 lead, but with two runners on base . . . Those two runners and one more Bull would score in the inning as USF took a 4-3 lead . . . Sean Bretz, in from the bullpen to relieve Lockhart, threw only nine pitches before being relieved himself by Devon Roedahl with a 2-2 count on a batter . . . Devon Roedahl eventually ended the inning after a fielder’s choice plated the fourth run for the Bulls.

Houston missed a prime scoring opportunity in the seventh when they could not get Kobe Hyland home from third after a triple led off the inning . . . After Brad Burckel reached first on a hit-by-pitch, Jared Triolo skied a ball to center, which looked like it would be a sacrifice fly to tie the game at four at the time . . . After the ball was caught, Hyland raced for home . . . Oddly, Burckel broke for second, and was thrown out at second before Hyland crossed the plate, so the double-play happened before the run scored and the inning ended that way.

The Bulls would add a run in the eighth on an Alex Bello two-out single to take a 5-3 lead into the ninth.

The Cougars went down quietly in the eighth and ninth . . . Houston did not score a run after the fourth and they only collected five hits in the game, one by Fuentes, two by both Cherry and Hyland.

The Cougars and the Bulls do battle again on Saturday at 5:30pm Houston time . . . Clay Aguilar is scheduled to make the start for the Cougars as they look to even this series. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

 

Cougars Drop Close Game to Cincy, 3-2

Houston Cougars vs Cincinnati Bearcats 4-18-2019
The Cougars bat against Cincinnati on Thursday at Schroeder Park.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Cincinnati Bearcats arrived in Houston playing better than their current record of 17-19 would indicate . . . Thursday’s conference match-up at Schroeder Park featured Lael Lockhart Jr. with his 3.20 ERA, which placed him fifth best in the conference, on the mound for Houston.

Bearcats starter David Orndorff was perfect thru three innings. Jared Triolo got the Cougars first base hit of the game to lead off the fourth, but Orndorff was in control and would not only get out of the inning, but would then follow with a perfect fifth . . . For Triolo it was his second of three hits in the game.

In their half of the fifth, the Bearcats capitalized on a tiring Lockhart elevating his pitch count and putting runners on base . . . The Cougar went to the bullpen in favor of Devon Roedahl with two runners on and two outs . . . Bearcats cleanup hitter Joey Wiemer hit the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a three-run homerun . . . It was all the offense Cincinnati would get, and it was all they needed.

Roedahl was really effective after that homerun, going 4 1/3 allowing only one other hit and striking out three . . . Roedahl did throw 59 pitches in his Thursday outing, so his availability for the rest of the series could be limited . . . The other side of that coin is that the entire rest of the bullpen is rested since Roedahl was the only pitched used on Thursday.

The sixth inning offered promise for the Cougars offense after Brad Burckel led off the inning with a base hit to center, and Kyle Lovelace hit the next pitch to center for a base hit . . . Jared Triolo skied a fly ball to left that continued to carry all the way to warning track, the left-fielder was unable to make the play and Brad Burckel was able to score from second . . . Two batters later, Joe Davis would receive one of his two intentional walks in the game and that would be all the Cougars would score in the inning.

Orndorff went eight innings only allowing that run in the sixth . . . Bearcats reliever Korren Thompson entered the game in the ninth to attempt to get the final three outs . . . The Cougars mounted a rally, getting four singles in the inning, including Joe Davis’ only hit of the game to lead off the inning after two intentional walks in the fourth and sixth . . . Derrick Cherry’s only hit of the game would drive in the Cougars only run in ninth as Thompson closed it out and saved the 3-2 victory for Orndorff.

The Cougars and the Bearcats return tomorrow for game two of their three game series. First pitch at Schroeder Park is at 6:30pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap